Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reboarding The Mothership

Sunday March 30th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI/Lake Villa, IL

The Mothership Connection is back on the air. We were off for two weeks because of a basketball game and then for Easter but today we were back. We all thought we’d have to wait until next week because AM 1050 WLIP carries Badgers basketball but alas they did not make it past their last NCAA tournament game so we were a go. I didn’t mind at all.

I’m having unbelievable fun with this whole concept. I love the topics we’ll be using on the show and it could eventually lead to my dream job of guest hosting on Coast to Coast AM at some point. Even if I was on as a guest it would still be an amazing thrill. I’m on a path to do that with this show if we can just keep it growing. So far we’re doing it right.

Today we had two guests on which I set up and both were very good. We had a flow for the whole two hours and didn’t run out of things to talk about. We got to polish our skills as interviewers and also get some airtime with each other which can’t be bought. That has to be earned and we started paying for it today. Everyone did great and we all had a blast.

I can feel a good spark with this idea. The time is right or it and everyone and their ugly uncle is trying to go some kind of ghost or UFO show in whatever format. We have a nice mix of energy on the show and the three of us are meshing pretty well. We’ve all been on the air a lot in our lives so it’s no big deal and it shows. The beginner’s jitters aren’t there.

Eventually I am hoping to have Uranus Factory Outlet as a sponsor. I am willing to let it grow for a while without getting paid in hopes that I can make it pay off in the fall. I have the whole summer to find guests and put ideas together and hopefully hit the fall with our act in full stride. I’ll also be able to look into making it a pod cast so we can get exposure.

Whether we make big money from it or not doesn’t really matter. What matters for now is that we’re all really into it, we all get along well and we all keep improving each week. It’s been three shows and we’ve improved significantly each time so that’s encouraging.

This was a good week on a lot of levels. I worked a full week at Zanies and worked my act every night. I didn’t walk through the shows even when it wasn’t the easiest of shows. I also made some booking contacts which I needed to do and that will pay off very soon.

If I can continue building Uranus Factory Outlet to the point of getting a site up in April I can start making products and slowly get ready for the Christmas rush. That’s probably a realistic deadline to actually start seeing any real results for this and I’m totally ok with it.

I never expected easy money with no effort out of this and in fact I’m glad it isn’t going to be that way. I need the education and experience of starting a business so I can catalog it all and write about it so hopefully I can help someone else in the future follow my lead.

If I am fortunate enough to continue living and be healthy enough to do what I’m doing now I’m going to realize my big dream of being a multi millionaire. I feel it all bubbling.

A Three Show Night

Saturday March 29th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Three shows tonight and I’m plum tuckered out. People have no idea how much energy that takes and I’m sure they really don’t care. About halfway through the third show it’s a struggle to remember what material was already done and what wasn’t. It can be a mess.

More than once I’ve seen a comic repeat a bit in the same show and usually it’s the late one of a three show night like tonight. I can’t say I haven’t done it myself on occasion but it’s been a while because there just aren’t that many clubs that make us do three anymore.

Zanies in Chicago still does and I’d guess it’s because of the size of the room. They are dealing with only about 130 seats and I’d bet that last show is a big percentage of the nut for their week. It’s important to keep it. All the other Zanies locations only do two shows.

Most comedians are happy about that but not me. If I’m going to work I want to WORK and adding a third show is a test of stamina. Personally I love it if they’re good audiences but that’s not always the case. More often than not that third one is a total monkey house.

Tonight was a typical Saturday night. The 7:00 show was sold out but they were a little tight. They hadn’t eaten yet but weren’t drunk so they were at least listening but they were not great laughers and made me work for everything. I don’t mind working for my laughs but when I’ve done material for years and I know it works it’s frustrating to have to sell it.

The middle show at 9:00 is the money show. That’s the one that keeps us all in comedy when everything else is blowing up around us. Saturday 9:00 is the prime audience and it usually is the best show of the week. Tonight was very good and all of us did well. I liked them very much but not as much as that first show yesterday. Still, it was a very hot show.

The late show was the killer tonight but not how it usually is. There was a large party of about 25 or 30 people that were having a 21st birthday party for a kid who sat in the chair directly in front of my mike stand. His buddies were all on the sides of him and occupied the entire front row. The older people sat right behind them so they were their own show.

That makes it REALLY tricky because the people in the back feel left out if I don’t do a show for them but the people in front paid a lot of money to have a show for them. This is the kind of thing they pay us for. The 9:00 shows we’d do for free. The rush is worth it all and it’s addictive. That’s also the reason we do the late shows. We want more 9:00 ones.

There was an obnoxious drunk kid who wouldn’t shut up the whole night. He wasn’t an ass but he was distracting. I tried to gently slam him so his friends would laugh at him for talking and hopefully he’d quit but that didn’t happen. I had to deal with it all night long.

After two good shows I didn’t want to ruin anything so I just sucked it up and moved on the best I could. I’d have to slam the kid every few minutes and of course his buddies had a blast and wanted more. This was by far the most difficult show of the week. But I did it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bouncing Back

Friday March 28th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Great day today. One day I feel like putting a bullet in my head and the next I feel bullet proof. Bullet proof is better. Days like this are why I exist. Everything I enjoy about living crossed my path today and rather than ask questions why I just shut up and enjoyed it all.

The weather was perfect so that’s a good start. After an unexpected snowstorm it was a treat to drive in the sunshine as I went to meet my friend Dale Irvin for lunch at the Todai buffet sushi restaurant in Woodfield Mall. Anytime sushi is on the menu life isn’t bad.

Dale is one of my favorite people to brainstorm with because he’s absolutely brilliant in marketing. He was a former comic but quit to go into the corporate speaking world. Now he’s in the speaker’s Hall of Fame and makes great money as a ‘professional summarizer’ where he goes to conferences and sits in on the boring meetings and then jokes about it.

What a fantastic idea and he has perfected it into a great career. He’s THE go to guy for that kind of thing and he’s usually not without work. He told me how he’d just returned in the last few weeks from Ireland and he’s always working in places like Hawaii or Florida.

Dale has had a newsletter for years called ‘Funny Business’ and he writes current events jokes every week. He was my first choice to fill in on WLS on Jerry’s Kidders when I had to miss a week because I was out of town. Dale appreciated the shot and did great. He and I usually have a lunch about once a year but stay in contact and exchange ideas regularly.

Today was our lunch day and it was really fun. Not only was the food great we came up with a lot of ideas for each other’s current projects. Dale LOVED the Uranus idea and has a couple of products he can already put on it. He co-wrote a book of lawyer jokes and had it published recently. This is his eighth book. EIGHT. I’m still waiting to write my first.

After yesterday I needed a session like this to light my pilot light again. Did it ever. Not only that we had a gorgeous Asian hostess at the restaurant and she was left handed as are Dale and myself. She was talking to us the whole time and we really connected with her. I can really feel a connection with left handers and always have. We’re just our own breed.

I gave her a comedy CD and I bet she’ll enjoy it. Her eyes lit up and that felt good to see someone as good looking as her so excited to pay more attention to me. A good ego boost always goes good after a good sushi meal and I felt like the king of the world walking out.

After lunch I headed over to the big sports card show that’s in Rosemont this weekend. I have a few friends from Milwaukee setting up so I wanted to take a lap and say hello to the people I knew. I hung out for a couple of hours and had a blast. I really love old cards.

Today was as perfect a day as I could imagine because it pushed all my buttons but in a good way. It would have been great at any time but after the ugly mess yesterday was it’s a major highlight. I really savored everything from the sushi to the flirting to the cards.

But it wasn’t over yet. I had two shows at Zanies tonight and I wanted to redeem myself from the abomination that was last night. This week was supposed to be a work week and I said I wasn’t going to let anything take me out and I meant it. This was two clean slates.

Last night they got in free and were idiots for the most part. Tonight they all paid $23 to get in so that helps weed out the maggots a little. It was pretty full if not sold out and they were absolutely fantastic. I felt the vibe before the show and watched the other comedians get laughs and knew I was in a sweet spot. I didn’t know how sweet until I got on stage.

There are nights when everything works and this was one of them. I love these because I can play with the order of my set and switch it around even more than I already do and I focus on making this particular show custom made for this particular audience. I love that dynamic of being in the moment the whole time and having to make constant decisions.

It’s like a quarterback of a football game. I’m calling the plays up there and I can go any direction I want. What bit do I want to do? How do I want to do it? Should I ad lib a line? How about if I go into the audience and talk to them a little? These are things going on in my head the whole time and the challenge of keeping the flow going is what I live for.

I do some of the best writing I ever do in those situations because I’m in such a groove I almost always ad lib a tag line to a joke I’ve been doing for a long time. It just comes out in the flow of the moment and more often than not it’s a keeper. That’s a good feeling and tonight the whole show was like that. I had them from go and didn’t let up until the end.

I sold some cds and shook a lot of hands and heard some compliments which is never a bad thing but there was one couple who came up and said how they saw me a year ago for the first time and bought my CD and play it for all their friends and they were watching to see when I’d come back again so they could come see me. It was even on their calendar!

THOSE are the kinds of fans I’ve always wanted to have. I took extra time to make sure I thanked both of them and tried to make them feel special and I succeeded. They said the show was even better this time and I almost felt they were star struck. I don’t ever want to come across as being a pompous ass even though I’m sure I have unintentionally at times.

Nobody can be perfect and act the way others want them to all the time but I do try hard to acknowledge and thank anyone who is a fan of mine. I greatly appreciate it and I never want to take it for granted. I’ve worked too hard to get here and if someone wants to get a picture or autograph I’m going to go out of my way to do that for them. It’s good energy.

I’m a fan of other people too and when I got to have moments with a George Clinton or George Carlin or Rodney Dangerfield it was special and I’ll never forget it. If I could be a pleasant memory like that for someone else I’m all for it. Life is short of things like that.

This was just a great day on a lot of levels. I don’t know why it happened but I’m glad I experienced it. After yesterday I was questioning my birth. After today I’m enjoying life.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wow, What Happened?

Thursday March 27th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Several kicks in the groin from the cosmos today. I couldn’t get it going no matter how hard I tried but that doesn’t mean I didn’t stop trying. I gave it all I had today but I feel as low as I’ve felt in many months. I heard it was a full moon tonight and it sure felt like it.

One thing went wrong after another today. I woke up and rehit the toe I ripped open and reripped it just as it was starting to scab up. I brushed it against the seam of my pants as I was getting dressed and it started bleeding again. It hurt a lot too and I again had another mess I had to clean up. I’m glad I’m not a hemophiliac or I’d probably be dead right now.

Then I got a call from a guy I thought was my friend who just moved out to Reno/Tahoe a few months ago. I have a gig in North Tahoe in a couple of weeks and he wants to come see the show with his wife. He made very nasty comments about me having gained some weight in the last few years and it really stung. I’m not saying I didn’t but it hurt like hell.

He said it in a mean spirited way just like my father would have. He went on and on for a few minutes and then he said ‘Well I guess that’s pretty mean to say that.’ Yes is sure is. I feel bad enough about not being in shape and yes it’s my own fault but to have someone I thought was my friend say it that way thinking he was being funny just left a bad taste.

I don’t even want him to come to the show at this point and I could make some remarks about him and his wife that would sting him right back but I held my tongue and shut my mouth and didn’t let him know it tripped a trigger wire but it really did. I didn‘t need that.

These are the kinds of things I’ve been trying to fight my whole life. Hearing that today took me right back to the ugliest part of my childhood and I didn’t like it. I still don’t. It’s not that easy just to ‘let it go’ and ‘turn the frown upside down’ like all the God squadder goofs usually say. ‘Put it in Jesus’s hands’ or ‘God is just testing you’ or some other crap.

I forced myself to get some work done because I didn’t want to waste the day. I needed to work on my bookings and I did exactly that. I reconnected with a booker out east that’s booked me in the past but not in a few years. She has work near New York and I’d love to get back that way again. I also connected with bookers in Michigan and Louisville, KY.

Sending avails is a crucial part of being a comedian because it’s a numbers game and is a matter of getting one of the 52 spots each club has to give out every year. I haven’t been up to date on my booking rounds as I could and should be and today I at least started back on the right track. I also reconnected with Calgary, Salt Lake City and Memphis as well.

Those are all places I love to work but the money isn’t that great. Not for someone with my drawing power which is pretty much zero at this point. IF people come out to the club I will give them a great show but I don’t really have any influence on getting them there. I can only do what I can do and that’s give my best shows which usually are enough for the clubs to bring me back. I will get rebooked in most if not all of these places if I want to.

And I do want to. I just want to eventually get to a point where I sell out those shows so everyone can make a few bucks. I’d love to be that draw that can put asses in seats but for whatever reason I haven’t been able to accomplish that yet. That’s why I am banking on a shot in the arm from the King of Uranus. If that gimmick doesn’t draw I think I’m sunk.

I felt like it the rest of the day as I went to go get my haircut before the weekend shows. There’s a haircut place not far from me and there’s a stylist named Eva who is one of the hottest women I’ve ever seen in my life. She’s a sweetheart too and she cut my hair a few times and did a great job. Making me look good is no easy task but she worked her magic.

Of course I got there and Eva was busy with someone else and I got ‘the other one’. It’s a typical Mr. Lucky scenario. There are only two hair stylists and one is smoking hot. I’m stuck with ‘the other one’. Not only did she babble on about American Idol which I could not care less about she took a lot longer than I had time for and had on nasty perfume too.

Then I got in the car and I had to fight traffic for over two hours to get into the city for a 6:00 dinner appointment with Jerry Agar and his friend Rick who he’s known longer than me. It was snowing and sleeting and traffic was as bad as I’ve ever seen it. I was late by a full hour and I had to pee so bad I almost soaked my pants. Traffic just would NOT move.

By the time I got to the restaurant I was in a foul mood and I tried to tell myself to brush it off but I had a hard time with that. We went to a Mongolian barbecue place and the guy brought Jerry and Rick their order but mine was someone else’s. They make us write out a name on a wooden tag. Mine said ‘Cheryl’. I asked the waiter if I looked like a Cheryl.

He didn’t even acknowledge my presence. He took the plate away and I sat there as they ate in front of me just stewing about everything. It really was funny I suppose and I might eventually develop it into a scene in a movie or something but today I wasn’t laughing at all. I consciously tried to put myself in a positive space the whole time but it wasn‘t easy.

The show at Zanies tonight was absolutely HORRIBLE. It was sold out and that’s great for a Thursday but I found out it was telemarketed and everyone got in free. Red flag. The term in comedy is called ‘papering the house’ and although it was full it doesn’t mean it’s a good audience and they weren’t. They were chatty and rude and not at all my people.

I have enough experience to cheerlead a crowd like that for as long as I can but then it’s a lost cause because they just lose it after a while. The booze kicks in and it’s over and no performance could get their attention up to and including a flyover by the Blue Angels.

These kind of days happen and today was one of them. As I drove home after dropping Jerry off and I turned the radio on and heard ‘Don’t Look Back’ by Boston. I wish I could put all of this ugliness behind me and I’ve been doing great but days like this wipe all that out. I took some lumps today and it hurts all over. My self esteem is in the toilet and I feel all alone in the world with nobody to cheer me up when I really need it. Today I really do. I don’t feel God. I don’t feel love. I don’t feel anything but pain. Why was I even born?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Fast Start

Wednesday March 26th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Today was one of the most productive days I’ve had in a long time. I got in a groove for some reason and I kept it up all day. I’m in a bullet proof mindset and am thinking clearly for a change and I know I’m on the right track. Now I just need to keep this up every day.

I’ve got a lot of stuff going on and I sat down and decided what was the most important thing to focus on before anything else. What do I need to do first and best? After thinking for a while I decided that for right now my standup comedy is in that position. It pays my bills and has for years and years and no matter what else is ahead I need to survive NOW.

My calendar is full enough to keep me alive but not swamped like it’s been many years in the past so I decided that this is a great time to revamp my act. I don’t need to do it but I want to. It will keep it fresh for me and in turn I will be excited about more bookings.

I sat down this morning and started working on the 135 pages of material I worked on a few weeks ago and just hacked it to shreds. I put it in the order I want it and mapped out a plan of how I’m going to incorporate it into what I’m doing now and it was the most fun I can remember having in years. I’ve needed to do this forever and I finally got it started.

It’s like getting a comedy chiropractic session and I can just feel improvement dripping off the page. It was a big deal to get the first version done but now I have it so I can make adjustments and tweak it when I want and I can already see that it was time well spent.

I lost myself in it and by the time I looked at a clock it was 4 in the afternoon. I spent an entire day doing it but I didn’t even notice. I went in and looked at where my act needs an addition or a subtraction and I added and subtracted and arranged and before I knew it the whole document is revamped. It’s now laid out in skeleton form and can be fleshed out.

I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it. It’s like a homeowner finally getting that new roof installed that has needed repairing for years. Now it can rain all it wants and I don’t care. I have a structure of what I need to work on and I’m chomping at the bit to get it on track.

Tonight was another challenging show at Zanies. There were about 50 people but they came around once again at the end. I had to work hard just like last night but I didn’t care. I wanted to try some of my new ideas and I did a couple but more than that I knew I put a full day of work in before the show and nothing can compare to that feeling of pure effort.

Another thing I did was fast today. I’ve been farting around with that for years and I will start and stop but whenever I’ve done it I’ve felt great and today was no exception. I used to think the idea of fasting was insane but now I’m sold on it. It’s good on a lot of levels.

I drank a lot of water and I felt some hunger pangs but they eventually went away. I felt a mental sharpness all day both when working on my act by day or performing it at night. I’m not getting cocky though. I still have a lot of things to work on. Like getting booked.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Headcleaning

Tuesday March 25th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I’m working steady for the next little while and I’m glad about that. I thought I’d lay off a little and get my business going but I haven’t done that at all. I’ve let it fall behind and I feel like a weenie. Too many things are in my face at once and I’m not getting it down to a system where I can make the most out of my time. This is a constant problem for me.

I can make all the excuses I want about being left handed and flaky and a creative type and all that but nobody really cares. I guess that takes the pressure off but there is a voice deep down inside me that tells me I can do a lot better. I am not satisfied with half-assing things and I want to squeeze every drop of potential I have out of me before I cash it in.

Fun is important and I love to enjoy a lot of things but the very best feeling is when I’ve put in a full effort on something and given it my all. That hasn’t happened nearly as much as I’d like it to and I want that to change. Working a lot of shows in the next two weeks is a great way to get me back on track. I’ll have to make good use of my time and I will.

This week I’m working at the downtown Zanies. That’s a hallowed hall of comedy lore as Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld and Sam Kinison and just about every other comedy giant of the last 30 years has worked there and I’m a regular there too. It’s a great place to work out material and keep improving and I intend to use this week as a workshop for myself.

Tonight was the first session. There were about 60 people at the show and they were not the greatest of laughers…at first. They were from all over the place from England to Ohio to Mississippi to Boston. I had to read them and decide what direction to take the show. It was a real challenge to get them going but I have a lot of experience so I went to work.

It’s easy to just say ‘these people stink’ and walk through a show with a condescending attitude. ‘Hey, I’m getting paid. Why do I need to impress THESE idiots?’ Part of that is true and I admit I’ve had that attitude more than once but this week I’m not going to do it at all. I’m fortunate to get this booking and I appreciate it and I won’t let anything spoil it.

I leaned into it tonight and was totally soaked in sweat when I got off. I didn’t intend to do my Greyhound bus bit but the energy swayed that way and I let it flow. I practiced the long version of it and went off on tangents and ad libbed a few lines and it worked great.

These are the kinds of things I need to work on every night from now on. I’ve got a nice solid 45 minute show I can do in 99% of comedy clubs in America and not a lot of people can say that but I can’t and won’t rest on that fact. I want to make it better and better and I know that I’ll never be satisfied with it but as long as I’m improving I know I’m growing.

I still have to get my days organized better though. I need to get my taxes ready and I’ve been pretty good at keeping records this past year so it shouldn’t be a nightmare but I still need to get it finished. I also want to get my website up and work on getting comedy class lessons on it. Not only that I want to get Uranus Factory Outlet up, running and profitable.

These are all big projects and I love thinking about them and working on them but if it’s unorganized like I have been none of them will ever get finished and I don’t want to make that mistake. I’ve come too far to get here and not closing the deal would be a big waste.

This is still my prime and it doesn’t have any guarantees of how long the shelf life on it will be. There are a lot of younger comics coming up that are very talented and a they are all competing with me for audiences who are a lot younger too. I have an expiration date at least in the comedy clubs. I can see that and need to cover myself for the next chapter.

Building business skills is a must. I’ve been really lax on that and I need to get back to the level of excitement I was at when I first had the Uranus idea. I talked with my friend Jim McHugh today and he scolded me about being too flighty and all over the place and he was 1000% right. He apologized afterward but I told him he didn’t need to at all.

I thanked him for his thoughts and he really was right. All the people I told about what I wanted to do got it and I hit a nerve and now I’m letting it drift away. WRONG. Why is it not getting my full attention? I can’t answer that and I knew when Jim said it I need a new commitment to that idea. I am the King of Uranus and I am a self made multi-millionaire.

I think that’s the first time I typed that phrase out and looked and it kind of scares me a little. Everyone dreams about being rich and famous and successful but to actually DO it is another story. Am I afraid of it? I don’t think so but maybe I am. What is the tweak that has stopped me from pursuing what I still think is a worthwhile goal? I have no answer.

I also have no answer as to why my family situation still rots. Yesterday was my brother Larry’s birthday. He’s two years older than me. I haven’t spoken with him in a few years and I don’t know why. We didn’t have a fight or anything and he’s a wonderful soul but it just has never been in him to contact me and I have tried to contact him but he ignores it.

According to my half brother Bruce Larry isn’t mad at me but he just lives his own life and I’m not part of that for whatever reason. I would love to get back together and at least meet face to face with all my siblings now that the old man is finally dead and start over. We’ve all got a lot of healing to do and it would mean the world to me if we could do it.

Bruce and I were in contact via emails for a few months and things were going in a very positive direction and then it just stopped. I hope he’s ok. If I offended him it sure was an unintentional thing and after a lifetime of non communication I’d hate to end it now when it just was getting started. He was really in a good place and gave me some needed hope.

My sister Tammy has held her grudge for 15 years now but I have to give her credit for her persistence. I can’t think of any other ways to try to apologize or smooth it over and if any healing with her will take place she’ll have to be the one to do it. I’m all out of ideas.

Getting all this family stuff straightened out would do wonders for my soul. Making all of my millions is a fun dream but it would be worth a whole lot more than money to heal the family pain that has hung over my head for so long. A fresh start there would be fantastic.

Sixty Second Soapbox

Monday March 24th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

My Mondays are the busiest day of the week and I like it. It gives me a feeling of major accomplishment and starts weeks off on a high note. I made my train this morning but my foot hurt all the way to the train station. I left early so I wouldn’t have to do any running because I don’t think that would be very smart right now. I want to allow the cut to heal.

I don’t think it will be a hassle for too long but I nicked it at just the right spot where it bled a lot and now it hurts when I walk because it rubs against everything but I won’t let a little thing like that bother me. I’ve had way worse problems than this to get over and I’m just going to forget about this and focus on everything else I’ve got going on. It’s a lot.

The WLS spot went pretty well today and it was significant because I got to finally do a ‘Sixty Second Soapbox’ bit. That was my big claim to fame at the Loop and it was a nice daily forum to let it rip. People liked it and I still get requests for it when I’m at Zanies.

I did it on a new station and it didn’t get the reaction it did on the Loop but at least I got a chance to do it. That’s the hardest thing. Jerry will give me a shot to keep it going and it will be a good discipline to me to have to keep writing them. Once a week is much easier than every day and if I do it right I can film them and get them seen. It’s a branding thing.

If I can be ‘the guy who rants about current events’ in the mind of the public that’s not a bad thing. I will be able to put it on websites and that will get hits to my site. I eventually would like to rant as the King of Uranus but for now this is a good start. I know I can do a quality job because it’s all about the writing. It packs a lot of punch and fits my rhythm.

That’s the perfect fit for the internet and I need to use that to my advantage. Who’s got time to watch a whole movie or a sitcom? I sure don’t. But I do have a minute to watch an idiot who talks fast go off on something that I agree with. I think I can keep building on a concept that has already been successful. This was very popular when it was on the Loop.

Now I have yet another thing to put on my plate but this one is worth it. Even if I get to only put it on the station’s website and not on the air I’ll be happy. For now. I will build a following and have some time to get some in the bank that are timeless so that if someone does like it they can go and listen to a bunch of them and maybe put them on their ipod.

The best feature of this is that I am pretty good at coming up with them quickly so when a current topic comes up on a weekend I can be ready with a soapbox for Monday’s show. This is part of my life long process of paying dues and not a lot of people could do that. If I can get the reputation of being an ‘Andy Rooney with an attitude’ it will help me a lot.

I also hosted the new talent showcase at Zanies downtown. That’s the other half of what keeps me so busy on Mondays. This particular show was especially good as the audience and comedians were both very sharp. I just sat back and watched and all I had to do was a plate spinner’s job to keep the whole thing going. With a night like this that was too easy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bloody Sunday

Sunday March 23rd, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Easter Sunday. Bunnies hop and I did too when I stubbed the bare little pinky toe of my right foot on the corner of my bathroom door and ripped a nice chunk of meat off of it as I ran to answer my ringing phone. I didn’t think I’d hit it that hard at first but then I felt that delayed reaction pain blast shoot up my leg and I went down in agony a few seconds later.

I didn’t get to the phone call as I laid on the ground laughing at yet another klutzo move that laid me out flat on my rear. I’m no hypocrite when it comes to laughing at someone’s pain. When I fall down I laugh just as hard as I do when I see someone else do it. It’s just funny. It takes me a while to get over my own pain when I do it but I still laugh about it.

What wasn’t funny was all the blood squirting everywhere. It looked like Manson had a reunion party in my bathroom as I hopped around on my left foot looking for some towels to mop it up. I didn’t know a little toe could bleed that much and as I was wiping it up the question of what that toe is called came up. Is it the pinky like a finger? I’m still not sure.

I wrapped it up to stop the bleeding and then put a couple of extra socks on it to sop up the blood and hopefully insulate it as I walked. I was running late to meet Jerry Agar for a brunch near his house. His family is still out of town and we wanted to hang out and get a plan of action together for our live Jerry’s Kidder’s shows coming up at Zanies in June.

I was supposed to be there around 2 but I was only two minutes late so it didn’t matter. I didn’t even tell him about it because I didn’t think it was important. He’s known me for a long time and has seen plenty of my clumsiness so one more story would waste time for brunching. The joint closed at 3 and there was no time for idle chat. Time to chow down.

We had a great meal and hung out to relax a little and enjoy the day. We’ve both put in a lot of time trying to make things happen with our careers and a day like this hit the spot. The weather was perfect as we drove back to his house and started brainstorming ideas on how to create a live show that will be worth everyone’s while and create our own niche.

The main fear most people have about standup comedy shows is that they’ll be ‘dirty’. I can’t say I disagree with them. Many comics have NO clue where to stop and when it’s in poor taste the audience is lost for the rest of the show. I’ve seen it happen over and over.

The good thing we have going for us is that Jerry has been on stage before and has done standup comedy in clubs. All three of the comedians are established headliners with years of experience and we know where ‘the line’ is, especially for a person who might listen to WLS. We’ll be able to pull off fantastic live shows if we can just get people to show up.

We made a plan of how to talk to the sales staff at the station and get everyone on board so we can pull off a strong week at Zanies in June. This could really work well for us as it would start to build our own audience of people who don’t usually go to clubs. For once I can see radio helping to promote myself as a comedian and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

A Weak Week

Saturday March 22nd, 2008 - Vernon Hills, IL

This is not a good week for comedy. I knew that when I took the gig but it’s still not fun to have to perform for tiny audiences in a big venue. It would be like Van Halen playing a concert in an arena that’s only ten percent full. No matter how hard they rock it’s wasted.

That’s how I felt tonight at Zanies in Vernon Hills. There were two shows but we didn’t need that many. We could have fit both crowds into one show and still had room for more than were there. The first show had a grand total of a dozen people and in a 400 seat room that’s total death on a Ritz cracker. And two of them were people who used to work there.

They came out specifically to see me and even though I truly appreciate it that made it a little bit harder because they knew me personally. They sat right in front and it was sort of uncomfortable through the whole night. I did my best to suck it up and give them a show.

Jerry Agar and I got together before the show to have dinner at Famous Dave’s. Jerry is by himself this weekend because his wife and kids are in Florida while his son Tanner has a gig singing at Disney World with his high school swing choir. That kid’s doing alright. I am very happy for him but it also made me sad knowing I had to do a gig for only twelve.

Jerry has seen me a ton of times over the years and I always try to do something at least a little different when someone I know comes out to see me. I try to shuffle my bits into a different order every night and play each show by ear but sometimes it’s not always easy to do that. Some situations require a ‘play the hits’ energy but this show was kind of odd.

I got some laughs from everybody but it doesn’t shake the joint no matter how hard any dozen people laugh in that big of a room. I felt like I was wasting my time but I wanted to entertain both Jerry and the former people who used to work at the club. They came out to see me and I want to make that trip worth anyone’s while. I had my work cut out tonight.

It wasn’t fun for me at all and in fact it took the wind out of my sail a little. Actually the whole weekend did because none of the shows were very strongly attended. I don’t know how the other clubs in the country did but I really don’t care. I want to be a draw myself.

I’ve been trying to be one for many years and I haven’t figured it out yet. Hopefully I will.
I’m very thankful to be working though. A lot of other comedians are off this week and I don’t take it for granted. I also am taking my Gene Perret comedy writing course and it’s helping me sharpen my writing skills and discipline too. Now I need some people to show up and see what I’m working on. Twelve at a time is great in an orgy but not in comedy.

More than ever I need to find a way to turn a buck and have some security. If I have any smarts at all I’ll put my nose to the grindstone and crank out some way to make a little bit of financial security out of all the ideas I keep having. Ideas don’t pay the bills however. I need to stop dreaming and start DOING. I also need to get myself in front of someone in a position of power who can help me get noticed. I’ve worked way to hard to do it like this.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fifteen Years Later

Friday March 21st, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Fifteen years ago today I was nearly killed in a car accident on my way home from a gig in Antigo, WI. I was driving a Mustang convertible and it flipped upside down and would have decapitated me had I been wearing my seatbelt. I’d just removed it only a few blocks earlier so I could reach my jacket on the back seat. Leaving it off is what saved my life.

That’s all I could think about all day today. There was a big snowstorm that crippled the whole area and that’s what everyone else was talking about but I kept replaying that scene in my head over and over again like it was yesterday. It’s etched in my memory like a seer mark on a steak and that one single event has changed my life more than anything else.

I’d just turned 30 the week before and that’s when life is supposed to begin. Did it ever. One second I was thinking about what I was going to have to eat when I got home and the next I was grasping at life not sure if I’d see another sunrise. I sure didn’t expect that. The doctors, the police officer at the scene and everyone else told me how lucky I was to live.

I really was lucky to have lived through that. I’ll spare the grisly details but I missed out on a lot of horrible injuries by a fraction of an inch. Yes I had to learn how to walk again and had my jaw wired shut and I broke my sternum in two places and it was miserable for several months while I recovered but it could have been a lot worse. I got off pretty easy.

Every day since then has been bonus time. By all accounts I should be dead. It’s like my life has been divided into two sections and that day was halftime. I try to be thankful for a chance to live longer than I should have but some days it’s not easy. Life is very difficult.

I’ve had the deck stacked against me since birth and it’s been a lifetime of having a big mountain to climb. I’m not the only one to have had huge odds to overcome and I do not feel sorry for myself because my problems aren’t the worst by far but it’s been a struggle of epic proportions just to get this far. Looking back on it all now I‘m still without a clue.

Did I choose all of these hellish circumstances? I sure hope not. And if I did is there any reason why? Is there a reward in the next life for having gone through so much hell here? All I ever wanted was to have a normal life and be a good person and make others happy. I’m a pretty mellow chap for the most part but somehow I never got to live that scenario.

Ever since my earliest memories I’ve always felt like an outsider. My grandparents told me when I was very little that they were just watching me until they could find a place to send me because my parents had no room for me. That isn’t a fun way to start off and it’s been one kick in the face after the next. All these years later I still feel like an outsider.

One thing that still stands out in my memory about that car accident is the feeling I had that I was about to die. My life flashed in front of my eyes like we all hear about and I did not have any fear whatsoever. I had a split second to think and I was very clear during that instant and I thought ‘I’m going to die now. I’ve done my best and it’s time to move on.’

No fear. No panic. No sadness. I was ready to die. In a way I’m sad I didn’t because I’d have found out what really is on the other side if indeed there is anything. Maybe I’d have finally found a home somewhere. I sure haven’t found it here and still feel like a visitor in a bad hotel. There has got to be more than this out there somewhere and I want to find it.

Eventually we’ll all find out what’s out there or over there or up there or whatever we’ll do when the time finally comes when we pass from this insane pebble in the cosmos. I am absolutely looking forward to something better but until then I have to maintain life here.

Everyone and their uncle has a theory of what life is about but in reality nobody knows. I hear people tell me ‘You were kept alive for a reason’ but I’ll be damned if I can find it. I’ve been trying to figure it all out both before the accident and after and I’m still at a loss for words. Life seems to be random dollops of manure on my plate and I’m not hungry.

One thing that day did was to make me grateful for everything I do have. I don’t take it for granted when I can get out of bed and walk to the toilet because for months that was a huge struggle. I am thankful for every time I get on stage because that’s what I love to do.

I also love to teach classes and that all started as a direct result of not having any money coming in. I was asked to teach a class in comedy and I thought it couldn’t be done. All of these years later it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve been able to work with over a thousand people and be a mentor and a teacher and it feels wonderful.

I’ve also lived a lot of life in these fifteen years. I toured the country as a comedian and I also had radio jobs in Reno, Salt Lake City and at the Loop in Chicago. I’ve lived out a lot of other people’s dream who wanted to be comedians but never had the guts to try it.

There have been some bad things too. I’ve had to testify in court against my best friend from childhood who robbed a bank twice and tried to blame one of them on me. That was more painful than the broken bones from the car accident and he really made it difficult.

My sister and I haven’t spoken in fifteen years either. We had a spat back when I was at my lowest point recovering from all this and she’s never forgiven me for it. I have tried to make peace several times but she just won’t accept it and that still hurts too. I don’t get it.

My father died last year and I never did make any kind of resolution with him. He was a lout and a bully and I never did get any kind of fatherly input from him. He made it harder as did my mother who abandoned us when I was just a baby. She contacted me after I was out of the hospital and swore she was going to see me but fifteen years later I still wait.

There are a lot of mistakes I made that I wish I could undo but there are also a whole lot of good decisions I’ve made as well. I’m trying to play the cards I was dealt in life but the rest of the world seems to be playing Yahtzee. I can’t quit now though. I’ve come too far. I may not ever get rich or famous and that’s just how it works in this life. But for the rest of whatever time I have left here I’ll try to make the most of it all and be grateful for it all.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day Of Spring

Thursday March 20th, 2008 - Superior, WI/Vernon Hills, IL

Today was the first day of spring but I missed most of it. I drove all night and got home around 10am and then slept until 6pm. I really don’t like doing that but I was tired from a long drive and that wasted the rest of the day. The cost of last night’s gig just got higher.

Not only did I have an all day drive yesterday with sky high gas prices now I lost today as well. I really have to think it over before I take gigs like this again because they are not doing me much good. It used to be that I took anything that came along just to keep busy but those days are fading fast. I don’t need more experience now. I need to make money.

I could have spent yesterday and today working on Uranus products or writing my script or sorting baseball cards and getting ready for a card show or anything other than having a long and dangerous ride through Wisconsin late at night. I am lucky to be alive actually.

Several times through the night I found myself nodding off behind the wheel and almost heading off the road into a ditch or guard rail. I caught myself just in time and jerked back into my lane just before impact. I cut it way close a few times and that’s just plain stupid. I am too old to be doing stuff like this and after a lifetime of long drives this is dangerous.

I didn’t want to stay the night because then I’d have to drive all day and be even later in getting back home so I decided to play cowboy and drive all night. Mistake. I felt myself getting tired a couple of times so I pulled off the road and slept for a while but that never is satisfying. It is a temporary relief but then waking up and driving again feels awkward.

This must be a sign that I’m getting older. In my 20s I would drive all day and all night and never get sick of it because I was going to new places. I used to love seeing how far I could drive in one day and all the things I could see along the way. Now I just want to get there and do the show and go home. The shows are still fun but the travel part is way old.

I can see why places like Branson are so attractive to performers. They can still perform but can also have a life at some kind of home. I never had that and now I’m starting to get hungry to experience it. The last few months I’ve been keeping it close to home and that’s starting to get appealing. Doing shows an hour away and driving back is attractive now.

There has to be more stuff like that in the Chicago area. If we can get Jerry’s Kidders on WLS to be a draw that would help us a lot. I’m sure we could find a lot of places that will have us once or twice a year and there are enough people in the area where we could have a nice local following and still make a living. That is a goal very much worth striving for.

I think there’s a way to go though. I got to Zanies in Vernon Hills and there were about 20 people in the audience tonight. This is a slow week because of many things like Easter and the NCAA basketball tournament and bad weather predicted and who knows what? If terrorists strike it could wipe all the shows out and with my luck I wouldn’t rule it out. To get upset about it won’t do me any good. I’m glad to have the booking so close to home.

Northern Exposure

Wednesday March 19th, 2008 - Superior, WI

Back to the long drives again. I hadn’t been out in a while and it wasn’t easy driving all the way to Superior, WI for a show tonight. It was 460 miles door to door and if it wasn’t for a booker who thinks I’m the funniest guy on earth I probably would have said a polite no thank you. With gas prices and wear and tear I barely broke even but at least I had fun.

I’ve worked for this guy before. He’s a comic/booker which usually means neither/nor but he’s a really good guy and I couldn’t say no. He also books a casino gig in Duluth and I’ve done it a few times over the years. The last couple of times I worked for him I wasn’t smart about leaving early and had to cut the shows dangerously close. Today was better.

I left early in the morning and got into town about 3:00. It was a sunny day even though I kept hearing on the radio that flash floods and storms were hitting the majority of every other place in the country. Usually it’s me in the bad weather but today I guess I missed it.

It felt SO good to get into town early and I checked into the hotel but couldn’t sleep so I took a nice walk in the sunny weather and unwound from the drive. I also took some time to page through my comedy notes I printed off and that was very productive. I’m glad that I took the time to type it all out because it’s already come in handy. This was a good idea.

The show tonight was in a restaurant called ‘The Shack’. That’s always a red flag to see on an itinerary but it wasn’t bad at all. The guy running it likes comedy and does shows in his restaurant dining room once a month. It seats about 120 and it’s a nice setup. He had a full house tonight and that’s refreshing. Usually I get the off week between the sellouts.

The guy who booked the show also hosted it and he went long. What can I say? This is his gig and he can do whatever he wants. Then he brought up a guest set local guy and he was supposed to do eight minutes but did about fifteen and was dirty on top of that.

By the time the regular feature act got off it was running way late but the booker said he wanted me to do an hour. Length of show is often confused for quality and that’s wrong. I can do an hour but that’s not the point. They were getting tired and drinking all night plus they just had a big prime rib dinner. They were ready to go to sleep before I even got on.

Nobody knows how difficult these kind of shows are except those doing it. They were a very polite audience and I did the hour he asked for rather than try to explain how it’s way too long. He has been very supportive of me and tells everyone how funny I am so it’s not easy to argue with a guy like that. He treats me like a big star and I am very grateful for it.

The people in a town like this don’t know what to expect and they were thrilled with the show. I sold quite a few cds and there was a long line of hand shakers afterward that had a big smile on their face and couldn’t wait to tell me how funny I was. I thanked them and I meant it. I even got asked to sign a woman’s breast. That’s a lot more difficult than it may sound but I’m a people pleaser so I did it. There has to be some reason to drive 460 miles.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time To Make Time

Tuesday March 18th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

I’m all over the place. Again. Time management continues to be a major issue and I am going to have to fight it for the rest of my life. I have no intention of being a lazy bum any time soon so I better learn to make the most of my limited time. Every day is a challenge.

The phone keeps ringing and emails keep coming and once again I can feel myself slide down the mountain and will need to catch up again. I could use a maid and a butler and a valet and a beautiful secretary but that would distract me even more. I need to FOCUS.

I was supposed to have lunch with Rick Geiser today but it didn’t happen. Rick is doing publicity for Zanies and I helped him get the job. He was a radio producer but got fired as most radio people do and has found a niche in being a publicist. I need to get one lined up for doing Uranus Factory Outlet press releases, etc. and I’ll meet up with him very soon.

Instead of knuckling down to start digging out of my pile of work I went to have a lunch with Marc Schultz. Marc is a great friend and I was hungry but I still should have taken a day to stay home and get work done. He lives 30 miles away and construction makes it an all day journey by the time I drive there and back. It was fun but I didn’t get work done.

These are the kinds of things I need to reshape a little. I need to plan my lunches so I am with someone who I need to see because it’s a major undertaking. Is it worth using up that much free time just to eat? No. I love hanging with Marc but I have too much else to do.

As long as I’m living out in the sticks where I am and gas costs what it does there has to be a change in plans. I told Marc that today and he understands it. He’ll still try to book as many shows for me as he can whether we hang out and have lunch or not. He’s a friend.

I love friends but I need to make more business contacts. Time is already slipping away in 2008 and I’m not even close to being where I thought I would at this point. I have taxes to get done and bookings to look after and tomorrow I need to drive all day to do a gig up in Superior, WI which will take even more time away from me. I am losing control fast.

I’m back in town for the weekend and all next week I am at Zanies in Chicago. I have to get caught up and will use that time to do it. The week after that I’m back on the road and not able to do anything so that’s another week shot. Now I see why things don’t get done.

One of the best feelings I’ve ever had was cleaning out most of my possessions a while back. I must have gotten rid of 75% of everything I owned and it felt REALLY good. I’m starting to feel clogged again and it may be time to repeat the process. I need to simplify.

At least I’m still doing what I love to do though. I am going from one project to the next but I enjoy all of them from comedy to Uranus Factory Outlet to baseball cards to writing. If I can just organize my time a little better I can continue to work on all of those things. It continues to be a daily struggle but I’m sure having a lot of fun so that’s not so bad is it?

St. Patrick's Day

Monday March 17th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I’ve always thought St. Patrick’s Day was a great marketing concept. It’s not really a full holiday but it’s got all the ingredients of one and more. First, it has a great location on the calendar. Everyone knows the exact date of it. There aren’t any other holidays around it to distract from the theme so it gets all the attention and it’s right near the start of spring too.

People are happy about the coming of spring a lot more than they are about winter. This is good for St. Patrick’s Day and it doesn’t hurt that there’s drinking involved. That helps make it popular with the masses whose lives seem to revolve around boozing it up. There aren’t a lot of holidays that make drinking part of the theme but St. Patrick’s day is one.

They have their own color and even people who aren’t Irish are proud to wear green and pretend they are. This is all a marketer’s dream and if I could create a ‘Uranus Day’ I’d be rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. What would my color be? What would be the thing everyone eats on that day? I thought about all this as I ate my corned beef and cabbage.

It said right on the menu that it wasn’t invented in Ireland just like fortune cookies were not invented in China. They were marketing ideas invented here. If that stuff could morph into pop culture why can’t I come up with something that will too? That got me thinking.

Marketing is EVERYTHING in show business. I guess it is in life too. I still remember a line that I read many years ago that said ‘It pays to advertise. There are 23 mountains in Colorado higher than Pike’s Peak.’ Having the ear of the masses is valuable. I have been trying to get it for years and haven’t done it yet. It’s a lot more difficult than I imagined.

Britney Spears has it. Is she the first bimbo to party hard and pop out babies and act like a complete hillbilly? No, but for whatever reason the press covers it and people eat it up. Tabloids make millions off of her every twitch. It doesn’t mean she is happy or smart or a good person, it just means that she can manipulate the media and the public on a whim.

Frank Caliendo has it too. He sure did find his niche and then some. I can’t avoid seeing his face on TV or in a newspaper ad or hearing him on the radio. He captured the eye of a person with power and now he’s everywhere. I’ve never been able to do that for whatever reason and not many people can. St. Patrick’s Day was a good lesson in marketing for me.

I didn’t expect there to be a lot of people at Zanies tonight but there was a nice crowd. It was a very good lineup of comedians and one of them was Todd Johnson who I’ve known for years. We were roommates in Utah when I had my house and he needed a place to live and he’s a great guy. He has never been to Chicago before and this was his first trip here.

I hadn’t seen him perform in a while but he blew the doors off the place. I was shocked and very happy to see that. He found his stride in the last few years and he’s a monster up there. He’s a big guy and has a rubber face and he’s learned to tap into that and it’s going to really work for him. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he gets a huge break very soon.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

No Mothership Today

Sunday March 16th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI/Lake Villa, IL

The Mothership is grounded and I couldn’t be happier. Two reasons: one - it’s only for a week. Two - it came at the perfect time. It gave me a little time to rest and catch up with my cousin Brett. I hadn’t seen him in a while and we went for brunch at our favorite place of all time Pandl’s in Bayside, WI to celebrate our birthdays. It’s become an annual trek.

I really appreciate Brett. He’s seven years younger than me and we have a lot of similar ideas on a lot of things. Both of our fathers were brothers and both of them didn’t take the job very seriously and both Brett and I have tried to overcome it and salvage a good life. I respect his work ethic and he has dedicated his life to being a union carpenter. He loves it.

Now he’s a teacher and instructs new workers coming into the trades. Like me he loves to teach. It’s strange how similar we are. We’re both Pisces and both left handed and both a younger brother and we’ve always just really hit it off. He’s dark and very funny and we laugh uproariously about the sickest, darkest and most twisted things nobody can repeat.

It’s great to have someone like that and we both appreciate the fact that we’re about the only real family the other one has been able to maintain a positive relationship with. He’s a great guy and a gentle soul but like me he can come across a little hard edged and mean to someone who doesn’t know him. I’m that way too but I’m getting softer in my old age.

I know I need to eat better and all that ying yang that actually isn’t ying yang but we did not think about that today and enjoyed our once a year birthday meal. Pandl’s has the best brunch I’ve ever eaten and we both love it so we filled our wooden leg with everything in arm’s reach from crab legs to oysters, to lamb chops to corned beef to lox to a big omelet.

We laughed and talked and hung out and it was really relaxing. We each had the honor of making the other one laugh so hard that other people looked over to see what all of the fuss was about. It was cleansing and fun and even our waitress thought we were hilarious.

After brunch I dropped Brett off and went to the baseball card show at Gonzaga Hall on 92nd and Greenfield in West Allis. I hung out for the rest of the day with some of the guys there I’ve known for years and it was also a lot of fun. We had some laughs and I found a couple of good deals and bought a few cards at a great price I think I can move on Ebay.

Whether I do or not it was still a great day. I needed a day to recharge and this was it. It was an unexpected vacation because the Wisconsin Badger basketball game preempted us on the radio but that’s ok. The Badgers won and we’ll be back on the air again next week so nothing’s lost. We’ve got guests lined up and I can already tell we’ll be ready to go.

Tomorrow it’s back on WLS and I’ll be ready for that one too. I’ve got some work this week and next and the week after that so I’m not going to be hurting any time soon. I am still not totally set with my time management but at least I’m getting better at it. There are a lot of things going well right now. I claim those and will use them to build a good week.

Time is limited for us all and I don’t want to waste even one minute doing anything that isn’t fun or exciting or rewarding. I really do feel a new mindset coming on and I feel like I am in the stretch run of my life right now. How long that will last I don’t know but I feel strongly that if I’m going to have my life pay off I need to totally dedicate myself NOW.

I farted around for years like most people do but then it becomes too late. I fear that I’ll do that too and it chills me to the bone. To not have chased my desires is the worst thing I can imagine and I am flat out not going to let that happen. I will go down swinging and it isn’t going to be ‘someday’. TODAY is that day and I am going to make the most of it.

That thought consumed me all the way home from Milwaukee. I haven’t had the best of circumstances my whole life but there are a lot of people who had it worse in many ways. A lot of people have had it better too but they’ve never taken a swing at their big piñata. I have at least attempted to do what I love for my life’s work but I can do a whole lot more.

A good thing to report is that I haven’t had a major depression in several months. I get a few flashes once in a while but nothing even close to where I’ve been at my lowest point. I talked about that with Max this weekend and with Brett and I’m not complaining but it’s sure strange how that has come and gone in my life. I would love it to be gone for good.

That’s probably not realistic though and I know it. That’s one of the reasons I write this diary every day though is to hopefully shed some light on it for someone else who is on a journey to chase the big dream and doesn’t have the ideal conditions. I’ve already heard a whole lot of nice things from many people who follow my adventures and I appreciate it.

I write this diary mainly for me though. It’s good on so many levels. It’s a daily exercise in both discipline and writing and it keeps me with a deadline. It’s also therapeutic to just start typing and see where my thoughts go. I really do try to make it interesting for readers and I know I have quite a few from all walks of life. I won’t even try to please them all.

The main thing I want to accomplish with this is to encourage and entertain those with a dream. Hopefully young comedians will discover this not only as I write it but years from now and it will help them over their own life’s humps. I’m a kook in many ways and I am the first one to admit it but who isn’t? We all have dents in our can and we deal with it.

I feel like the old bromide I’ve heard many times: ‘The difference between involvement and commitment can be told with bacon and eggs. The chicken was involved but the pig was committed.’ I am committed to being a comedian and have dedicated my entire being and lifetime to it. I want to turn not only my own pain but that of others into laughter.

It doesn’t matter if I’m on stage performing or on the radio or on TV or on You Tube or teaching a class or whatever the case may be. I am giving my all for the rest of my life so I can be proud of something when I leave here. I already am proud of a lot of what I have done but now it’s time to turn it up even more. I still want to be the King of Uranus and it will take a lot of hard work which is great. The Mothership will fly again next Sunday.

It Plays In Peoria

Saturday March 15th, 2008 - Petersburg, IL/East Peoria, IL

Two more hot shows tonight. HOT. Volcanic. I am now in a new chapter of my comedy life and I know it’s going to be a good one. I’m not saying I won’t have a bad show at any time in the future because just about when a comedian thinks he’s got it figured out that’s when life turns into a giant pig rape and brings the reality hammer out for a few whacks.

I’m not getting cocky at all. What I’m saying is that I can feel myself in a place of being completely comfortable with myself on stage. Granted I had been at this club before just a few weeks ago and I’ve known Jim McHugh for many years so that brought a certain kind of comfort vibe to it all but even if that wasn’t part of it I still felt a new inner strength.

‘Will it play in Peoria?’ That was Vaudeville’s question about any kind of act. It meant a successful act had to be simple enough that simple people everywhere could understand and enjoy it. It didn’t mean they were bad people, it just meant they had a certain level of connection and if an act could connect with them on that level it would be a big success.

I totally get that now and YES I have played in Peoria. And Pittsburgh. And Pensacola. And a whole lot of other places too. Some of those places didn’t go well but a lot more of them did that’s what has made me ready for this next level. I have earned my Master’s.

Both shows tonight I felt totally in control. I felt comfortable ad libbing and just flowed from one subject to another as my brain shifted gears. I slowed down and was totally in as much of a zone as I’ve ever been in. I have an opener I use a lot but I didn’t use it tonight until about twenty minutes into the first show. By then the line got SHREIKS of laughter.

Before that I was in the moment and my inner antenna knew exactly where to steer the show. I felt like overdrive kicked in after all these years and I will keep working on it so I keep improving. This feeling was like Superman flying for the first time. I felt like a king.

I’ve been putting in my time lately though. No matter what problems I may be having or things that slide through the cracks my comedy has been a priority lately. I’ve been taking my Gene Perret correspondence course every week and that has helped me sharpen up my writing skills along with watching master comics like Carl LaBove and Jake Johannsen.

Another thing I’ve done to help me improve is getting all my surviving comedy notes in a single computer file and making it into a notebook. Losing my other computer will hurt forever but it didn’t kill me. I still had a random pile of loose notes left and some outlines of bits I’ve been thinking about so I typed it out and printed it and have it all in a binder.

I have been working on it for a while now and it’s 135 pages of stuff. Much of it isn’t in finished form but that’s ok. It will give me something to do over the next few months and years and however long I’m left on this planet. I will flesh out the ideas for a ton of fresh material and that will keep me busy and interested as I keep striving to make my act even better. I want to get so strong somebody big HAS to notice me and I’m doing exactly that.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep at all last night because Max got up early and went over to his deli and ice cream shop to prepare for the upcoming tourist season. It’s located in the Abe Lincoln Village about ten minutes from his house and I told him I’d tag along and help to keep him company. We don’t get to see each other that often so I didn’t mind getting up.

Max is a natural when it comes to business. He loves it just as much as I love comedy. I am not fooling myself into thinking I have anywhere close to his acumen for what it takes to be a success in turning a buck but he will help me just like I’d help him if he needed it.

Actually I already have. I put my life savings up as collateral for this business venture. I believe in it and him that much and he needed it so I said I’d help out. He is going to have this thing humming by the end of the summer and that’s when I’ll be able to use that cash again. It’s still in my name but I can’t take it out until Max pays the loan off. I trust him.

Those three words say a lot. I have a hard time trusting ANYONE including my mother, father, blood relatives or radio morons who tell me to move across the country for a job. I gave Max all I had and I know he appreciates it and won’t allow himself to not pay back a vote of confidence from someone who believes in him. Neither one of us are used to that.

Watching Max run that deli is like watching Brett Favre run a football game or a Mafia family run a labor union. There’s a plan there. Not only that he’s got great timing because Abe Lincoln’s 200th birthday anniversary is in 2009. There’s a movie being filmed about his life with Liam Neeson and Sally Field and it will be a HUGE tourist stop when it hits.

Max is hoping it will be like Field Of Dreams and people will come from all over to see it. He could be right but then again if gas hits $4 or higher maybe nobody is going to have money to go anywhere except the poor house on their summer vacation. Either way I still took a chance and lent Max the cash and we spent much of the morning talking it all out.

We talked about what would happen if he died first or I did and how we’d work it out. I trust Max but he still has it in writing in his will that I get paid first before anything else. I can just see his desire and ability to be a businessman and he vowed to help me in getting the Uranus Factory Outlet business up and running and help consult with me as it grows.

Getting fired and humiliated at the Loop still bothers us both. We talked about that too. We also agreed that if it took that ugly situation to bring us together it was still worth it. I know Max is going to be a millionaire because he WORKS at it. He’s got rental houses in Springfield and does the morning show on WYMG and he also has this deli business too.

We spent most of the morning talking and then we went with his wife and kids to Pizza Hut for lunch and just hung out. He doesn’t get to do that much with either me or his kids so we just sat around and ate pizza and laughed a lot and made ourselves a fun memory.

These kinds of things are all necessary for that ‘big success’ everyone dreams about. It’s actually a lot of little successes all strung together. This weekend was extremely positive.

44 No More

Friday March 14th, 2008 - East Peoria, IL/Petersburg, IL

Exactly forty-five years from today I’ll be 90 years old. If I’m lucky. If I’m luckier I will also have an Anna Nicole Smith type bimberino with gigantic love rockets hanging on my arm whenever I’m photographed and I’ll be photographed a lot because I’ll be the old fart with a bazillion dollars who loves to flaunt his fortune in front of all the young sex tarts.

For today I’ll have to settle for being half that age with no bimberinos hanging off me at any point of my anatomy. I’m starting another year I never really thought I’d make. 45 has a lot more in common with 60 than it does 20 and I have to accept the fact that the youth I always had in my corner has now shriveled up and blown away. I’m alone with my brain.

My life continues to be abnormal but I’m used to that by now. I’ve always been the one that’s the exception to most rules. Most people my age have kids getting ready for college and are on their second or third wife but I’m not anywhere close to that. I’m hitchhiking a ride on a desolate highway and I don’t see any cars coming any time soon to pick me up.

It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the journey though. I have seen a lot of interesting things I will cherish forever and made acquaintances with some fantastic people along the path so far. The path has been a lot different than I imagined and now I’m turning another corner.

45 isn’t old but it’s not 25 either. I’ve got a lot of valuable experience but I’ve also got a lot of baggage I’ve accumulated along the way. One thing I’m glad I haven’t acquired is a drinking or drug problem or children that hate me because I wasn’t able to be a father. It’s only now that I feel I’m anywhere close to being ready for that but I feel it’s pretty late.

I really did a lot of soul searching today as I‘ve done a lot of in my life. Am I ever going to find that stupid thing? I seem to be searching for it all the time but I’d probably have an equal chance of catching Bigfoot taking a dump at a highway rest area in Tallahassee, FL. Bigfoot has his name in the public’s eye though. I’m still an unknown after all this time.

The one good thing I’ve got going for me is that I’ve always had the cahones to let it rip and give something a chance. I’ve failed at pretty much all of it but at least I tried and I’ve sure learned a lot along the way. Plus I had a lot of fun too. That’s always been a priority.

I hope it still will be but I can feel both my strengths and my needs changing quite a bit. I’m not the exuberant young buck who will run through brick walls anymore. Now I don’t feel a need to do that anymore. I’ve been all over the place trying all kinds of things and it didn’t give me the results I thought it would. On the other hand I’ve lived the big dream.

My big dream when I started in comedy was to be a nationally touring headliner with as funny of an act as anyone out there. I wanted to be right up there with the best comedians who ever stood on a stage and in many ways I’ve accomplished exactly that. Just because I don’t have a sitcom of my own or a movie deal doesn’t mean I haven’t reached my goal. I have clawed and scratched my way from total ground zero to becoming that headliner.

I thought about all that as I drove to Petersburg, IL to visit my friend Max Bumgardner. Max is so much like me in many ways it’s scary. He’s having a lot of the same issues I do about life and radio and coming from a terrible family environment and we both get down about it from time to time. I have been wanting to see him for a while so I took this gig.

The gig is at Lenny’s Comedy Café in East Peoria and I was just there a few weeks ago. I was going to take my birthday weekend off and just catch up on stuff but Jim McHugh asked if I’d work with him because he’s trying to get another comedy group together. It’s similar to the Chicago Style Standups we were both members of but eventually both quit.

One thing after another kept popping up and I left a lot later than I wanted to and didn’t get to Max’s house until about 4:30pm. His daughter Skylar is 9 and she plays basketball in a city league in Springfield so I rode up with the family to watch the game. It was very exciting actually and Skylar’s team won in the last few seconds with a really good play.

She’s a great kid and was beside herself with excitement and it was a total blast to see it in person. Part of me winced with pain knowing I probably won’t get to see my own kids doing this but it still was fun and a great way to spend part of my birthday. It was a treat.

Max came with me as we wound through the back roads from his house to the club. We were running late and got bad directions and it got very tense very quickly. I hadn’t talked to Jim and it was just frustrating that we couldn’t find the club. High stress was all around and this is what Max and I both have nightmares from thinking back to our childhoods.

It was uncomfortable and frustrating and there was nothing we could do about it except to call for directions and keep getting turned around by some imbecile who didn’t know a left turn from a right. Eventually we got to the club but not without a stressful interlude of torture that I didn’t really need on my 45th birthday. I was glad to see the sign for the club.

Who knows why this kind of stuff happens but it sure is a pain in the ass. I feel like it’s a bad dream and I’m trying to find the door but can’t. I tried to smile and reverse the dark place I was headed to and I took all the energy I had to focus on the show we had to do.

The place was maybe two thirds full and Jim went up and started the show and brought up another comic named John Novotny I hadn’t seen in a while. Then I went up and I felt like I had Obi Wan Kanobi’s light sabre in my hand instead of a microphone. I had a new perspective of myself up there and planted my feet and went right for the crowd’s throat.

I don’t mean that in a vicious way at all. I went right for the laughs and I was not about to let anyone leave there without having fun. I dug in and hit them as hard as I could and I just felt like I really knew where I was going. I switched it around and made it fit the day.

Max noticed it immediately and we talked about it on the ride back to his house. He is a big fan and said I am on a new level performance wise that I’ve never been on before and he’s right. This was an interesting way to spend my birthday to say the least. Here we go.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Great One

Thursday March 13th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

The hits just keep on comin’. I am so overwhelmed with emotion that I can barely type. Today was another fantastic day but I’m having a hard time putting into words how much it means to me. For the first time in my life I can feel that there are people who like me.

That sounds strange even to me but it’s true. I always knew there were people who liked me but I couldn’t feel it. I was either totally numb or in pain from the childhood insanities I’ve been trying to overcome my whole life and for whatever reason I couldn‘t feel happy.

Now I’m getting older and a lot of things are opening up I’ve never felt before. I know I am not the angry young man I once was and that’s a good thing for everybody. I am in my best groove and it’s getting better all the time in many ways. I’m starting to find my stride in life but I can also feel my mortality. This has been a while coming. I am in my prime.

That could end in ten years or ten minutes but for now I can feel that this is as good as it will ever get. I’m a tulip in bloom and I hope someone takes a second to at least look over in my direction and enjoy it before I get chopped up and made into mulch or fade away.

I’ve been beaten up a lot and for whatever reason I’m still here. By all odds I shouldn’t be alive but I overcame them when nobody thought I would. I have a lot of pain and scars but I also have a lot of things I’m very proud of and I feel like it’s just now that I’m ready to start experiencing what life and love and adventure are all about. I feel like I’m mature.

Today was one more positive thing after the next. First I got a call from Shelley my new web person telling me that she FINALLY got the passwords she needed from the old guy who hadn’t been returning her emails. This whole situation has been nothing but pain and I am not good at dealing with stuff like this. She has been great and that was good news.

Knowing that ugly situation is going to be in the past soon cheered me up unbelievably. I feel bad it had to happen but that was his choice and he’s got his own problems. Then it bled into my life too and that wasn’t fair but who ever said life was fair? I never heard it.

Then I went to have lunch with Marc Schultz and Chuck Field. Chuck is a ventriloquist who took my comedy class many years ago and he’s the one who introduced me to Marc. Marc and I have become great friends and Chuck was the one who introduced us but they both wanted to buy me a birthday lunch and that just made my whole soul feel very good.

Things like this may be taken for granted by many but never by me. I never got a chance to be a kid because of all the ugliness and dysfunction and insanity when I was that age so now just having a lunch with my friends to celebrate my birthday made my whole week.

I felt like I was 9 and had free reign of Chuck E. Cheese. I didn’t get it then but today I sure felt like I was the king of the world. That food tasted better than filet mignon and to feel that feeling of being appreciated and thought of washed through me like an enema.

I have always tried to make others feel that way but I never really knew if I was able to get through to anyone. My sensors have been scorched and sometimes people would say or do nice things for me but I always felt like the kicked dog. Now I feel like a teddy bear.

Shelley really is trying to do something nice for me and I can feel it. I also felt the good vibes from Marc and Chuck too. They were glad to take me out and make a big deal for a friend just like I’ve done for them over the years. Getting it back feels SOOOOOO good.

After lunch I headed down and picked up Jerry Agar at WLS. He invited me over to his house for dinner and then to see his son Tanner in a production of The Wiz at his school. I always appreciate Jerry’s family and they too have been wonderful to me over the years but most of the time I’ve been in so much pain I couldn’t feel it. Today I could feel it.

We had a wonderful dinner and were getting ready to leave when out came a surprise birthday chocolate pie with a candle in it. I was totally not expecting it and it sent a chill through my whole body. I’ve had birthday cakes before and dinners before but for some reason this one was extra special. I really felt I was part of a family and it‘s new to me.

Tanner had a small part in the play because he’s got so much other stuff going on but it was still great to see him and I watched all the hot chicks gather around him like he was a big star and he totally is in that environment. I’m happy for him but I can’t relate at all.

That whole scenario wasn’t anything like when I was that age but that’s how I pictured it back then. Tanner is now living it and I’m thrilled for him. What was amazing was that he left all those girls when he saw that I was there and came over to thank me for coming.

I had to hold back tears and emotion backed up like a clogged toilet. I have known this kid since the day he was born and now he’s growing up into a young man and I feel that I have meant something in his life. I could tell by the look in his eye and I never felt it quite like that before. He’s a great kid and will be a huge success but I can see he respects me.

I don’t know why it took this long for me to start feeling these things but I totally did all day. I got a stack of emails from people who remembered it was my birthday week and it doesn’t have to be on the exact day to still make me feel appreciated and very flattered.

My friend Mark Krueger called out of the blue and told me he and his wife Amy loved my show a few weeks ago and just wanted to say hi. Wow, what a nice thing to hear. I’m also thrilled that I got a fantastic email from a woman I went out with recently and would love to see again. She remembered my birthday and reading that email again touched me.

I’m a nut. A kook. A wackadoo. A goof. A dented can. I’m doing my best with the hand of cards life dealt me and it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve made mistakes I regret and tried to make up for them usually with no success. But those things don’t rule my life. I’m able to feel the positive things now and I’ve never been able to do that before. I’m not afraid at all of failure or being broke or even death. I feel like I am ready to tackle a big adventure.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

Wednesday March 12th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

I didn’t need to be cheered up today but I got it anyway. Everything fell into place and I feel like I am once again in sync with the universe. When I’m in that groove I’m fine but sometimes I get bucked off the horse and have to climb back on it again. But not today.

My friend Drew Olson sent me an email to let me know there was a chair available this morning on his radio show ‘The D List’. I hadn’t been up there in a while and it’s always worth the drive. The guys on the show have always been great to me but today they were extra nice if that’s possible. When I walked in the studio I could see their eyes light up.

I got hearty handshakes and smiles from the guys and also the people who aren’t on the air. I can tell when I’m not welcome in a place but this isn’t it. When Bob and Tom threw me physically out of the studio, THAT was unpleasant. This was like Norm walking into Cheers. I’ve been on before and it’s always laid back but today took it up a notch higher.

Who wouldn’t be in a good mood after that? We had a blast on the air as usual and each time I come on some caller always says something like ‘I think you’re hilarious’ and it’s a fantastic feeling because I know they mean it. This makes the drive north totally worth it.

After the show Drew and I grabbed a quick lunch at a nice pub near the station and for a change I ordered something healthy. I had a chicken teriyaki sandwich and a salad and did not have a soda. That’s one meal down and the rest of my life to go but it still felt good to do the right thing. One half day will not a lifetime make but it just kept turning out right.

On the way back to Chicago I got a call from Joshua Swanson who is an actor. He and I worked together on some comedy recorded bits when I was at the Loop in 2004. He’s 30 and has a lot of talent and energy and it was a surprise to hear from him. He and his wife are in Chicago filming a movie and wanted to get together for a visit and catch up a little.

He’s hoping to get into standup and asked for my help which I can totally do. He will be able to help me with stuff too and it was good to reconnect with such a positive energetic person. That’s who I want to surround myself with and it was a pleasant surprise to get an unexpected call from him. We hung out for an hour and exchanged ideas and it was fun.

As we were leaving I got a call from Bill Gorgo offering to take me out for my birthday meal. I took him out for his and again it’s always fun to hang out and talk comedy with an old pro like him. Like me he loves it and is a student of the game and we had a great time.

Not only that we went to Red Lobster and I didn’t go nuts there either. It was still fun to hang out and who doesn’t like it when someone buys them a birthday meal? Bill is a good friend and I appreciate him and all my other friends too. Drew Olson is another total ace.

Whatever else has been bad in my life I have a bunch of people I can call friends. That’s worth a lot more than money. Drew and Joshua and Bill all made me feel like I matter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This Little Piggy

Tuesday March 11th, 2008 - Lake Villa, IL

Tuesdays are my weekend and today I hung out and did nothing. Mondays are usually packed and I usually have comedy shows on Fridays and Saturdays so Tuesday is a day to rot and do nothing. Actually I have a hard time doing nothing so I spent most of the day sorting baseball cards. That’s probably boring to most people but it’s very relaxing to me.

I won a big auction on Ebay of 1971 baseball cards and I started plowing through them. That’s the first year I remember collecting as a kid and it brought back memories. That’s the main appeal of collecting sports cards. It’s an immediate trip back in time to the safe part of childhood. I have a lot of places I don’t want to go back to but I did enjoy sports.

It occurred to me as I was sorting that most of the players are now in their late 60s and early 70s and that was kind of an eye opener. When I was a kid they seemed old to me but in reality they were in their prime years. Now I’m older than they were then and they’d be happy to trade places with me. It’s all so surreal. Nobody stays exactly the same forever.

I used to be very athletic and wiry but now I’m a flabby pig and need to drop some lard. I played baseball night and day in the summer until it was football season and then that’s what I did in my spare time. I loved basketball too. Now I am morphing into the slobs that I talk about in my act and I don’t like it. It’s my own fault though. I don’t exercise at all.

I start and stop and start and stop and stop and stay stopped until I start again and then it stops. There’s always more stopping than there is starting and in between there is a lot of great food available with little effort. I love to sample good food but I’m paying for it all.

Yes it’s delicious but if I keep up this lifestyle they’ll be burying me sooner than later.
I’ve been in this situation before and I’m not the only one struggling with it either. Life is passing quickly and I’m not the young buck I once was who could eat anything and not worry about it. I can kid myself all I want to but I’m an out of shape piece of chewed gum and if I don’t immediately change my thinking it will cause a catastrophic event quickly.

Wow, how’s that for relaxing on my day off? It’s true though and I’m not doing myself any favors by ignoring it. I need to start an exercise plan and STAY WITH IT. I also need to watch what I eat more. Sodas are the killer and I admit it. I love them and I need to stop or at least drastically cut down on them. I am feeling sluggish and tired and I don’t like it.

The best birthday present I can give myself is to get my head out of my ass and then get my ass out of Taco Bell and all the other places that have captured my palate’s fancy. I’ve had a lifetime of eating whatever I wanted and it was great but now it’s caught up and it’s time to change my ways. How many times have I written about starting to exercise daily?

If I don’t do it I won’t be writing anything. There will be something written about me - my obituary. I’ve had enough great tasting food for three lifetimes. If there’s one priority I made in life it’s eating good. Now I have to eat WELL, as in healthy. Time to do it right.

Tom Green Day

Monday March 10th, 2008 - Chicago, IL

Yet another manic Monday. Lots of the usual stuff going on but it was also the one year anniversary of my friend Tom Green’s passing. It’s also his birthday. I’m not exactly sure of the day he passed but that’s when I heard about it. I’m still sad and angry about it and it was in my thoughts the entire day. Tom was truly a wonderful friend and a major talent.

Supposedly the Pisces of the world are the old souls and we have been here before. I am one as was Tom as are a lot of my friends. I wonder if it’s true? If it is, why do we have to keep coming back here? Are we that stupid we can’t learn all our lessons in one lifetime?

I’m hoping Tom is in a much better place and I hope he has finally passed his tests. I for one do not wish to come back to this planet and when I’m gone hopefully it’s for good. It would be torture to have to come back and grow up all over again and go through chicken pox and puberty and who knows what else? I’ve got enough problems with this lifetime.

Today was an odd day all around. I missed my train downtown to be on WLS and had a tension filled drive instead. Traffic was hellish and I got off the freeway to take a shortcut through the city and that was worse. I had to be on the air at 10:30 and I pulled up into the parking garage at 10:26. Of course the lot was full and I had to wind all the way up top.

It cost me $29 to park and then I caught the elevator down and ran around the block so I could get to the station. I have to go through security but they’re getting to know me and I was able to make it to the studio just in time to go on the air. Listeners didn’t have a clue but I sure was wound up. I really don’t like to put myself into a pressure cooker like that.

Our segment went very well today though so that’s a plus. Last week was good too and management is liking us…for now. We even got someone to sponsor us for two weeks in a row and that’s really a plus. All we need is a chance to keep doing this and get into our audience’s heads. Eventually we’re hoping it will lead to some live shows around town.

Tonight I had to host a college comedy competition at Zanies. It was Columbia College vs. Northwestern and it was sponsored by They’re starting to become known as a place to see comedy clips on the web and I like the idea of having the college competition. The place was totally sold out and there were eight comics on a side.

I felt SO old watching the comedians and the audience but that’s how it goes. I am not a young punk anymore and I was that age and doing comedy when I started. I was of course horrible as is everyone who starts out but I had a spark in there somewhere. I saw that in a lot of the contestants tonight. I hope they stay with it because I saw some strong potential.

If nothing else I’ve got my pole in the water for a lot of things. Getting Monday hosting slots at Zanies helps pay the bills and it’s fun too. WLS is a blast as well and it’s starting to take root. That could pay off nicely. I’m still hoping to build Uranus in the near future and also put my comedy classes on line as well. I’ve got a lot to get done in one lifetime.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Semi-Pro Stinks

Sunday March 9th, 2008 - Kenosha, WI

Will Ferrell owes me six bucks. That or the hour and a half of my life I wasted sitting in the theatre waiting for his movie ‘Semi-Pro’ to get better. It didn’t. I feel cheated. If that’s what it takes to be successful than I’m never going to do it. What a flaming slice of poo.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in touch with the public on what is considered funny. When I was a kid it was Welcome Back, Kotter. Everyone in school thought that was a hilarious show and try as I might I just never got it. I still don’t. The same went for Adam Sandler’s movies as I got older. Or Martin Lawrence. Now it’s Will Ferrell. I don’t find him funny.

But what do I know? I only am in the comedy business and make my living by getting a live audience to laugh out loud. If I don’t get laughs I don’t get booked back. I’ve been in the business my entire adult life so I must be doing something right but it still kicks me in the shorts how all these moronic products can be branded as comedy and idiots buy it up.

I don’t even consider myself to be that smart but this movie insulted my intelligence for ninety minutes. I tried to see where they were coming from and I have to admit I’m pretty much stumped. I wanted to like it too. I grew up in the ‘70s and remember the ABA and I was hoping it would be at least a little nostalgic. The only ‘n’ word I felt was nauseated.

Other than that it was a pretty good day. The reason I went to see the movie in the first place was because I was in a good mood from doing our second installment of our weirdo based talk show ‘The Mothership Connection’ on WLIP in Kenosha, WI. Again it wasn’t a new page in radio history but we pulled off another two hour show and we got better.

We had both our first caller and our first guest so that was a plus. The caller was at least sane and wanted to know ‘what the hell kind of a show is this?’ That’s a legitimate query and we answered the best we could. Then our guest was Tim Allen who lives in Kenosha and used to be my boss at one time. He’s got some interesting stories of psychic nature.

He was very entertaining and we got practice interviewing both a guest and a caller so it was a thumbs up all around. Plus we also did some show prep this week and had a couple of articles to talk over. We didn’t embarrass ourselves and it was better than last week.

I felt pretty good coming out of the radio station and that’s why I went to see the movie. I haven’t been to a theatre in months and months and now I see why. If this is what passes as entertainment I have a new career as a screenwriter. I can write funnier stuff than that.

But what about my own script? I’ve been letting it rot because I’m doing ‘other stuff’. If I had a script done I could start shopping it but I don’t so who’s the idiot now? I guess I’ll have to actually finish something of my own before I can criticize Will Ferrell’s movies.

This was a good motivator to get back to work on my script. I know I’ll have to make a serious effort to do it but it will be totally worth it. I don’t think the bar is set all that high.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Muster And Catch Up

Saturday March 8th, 2008 - Oak Creek, WI

Today I opened up another unpleasant situation and started to piece all my comedy class notes back together. Yesterday it wasn’t too bad as I started to make up the outline for my act and how I want to move that forward but today hurt a bit. The comedy classes are now in shambles because of both the loss of my other computer and my ex-partner’s antics.

I almost didn’t know where to start. I felt like a tornado victim picking up loose chunks of debris in the yard and trying to figure out what part of the house it used to be. I have an idea of where some of the stuff goes but no clear plan. This will take a while to rebuild.

The classes have been going in one form or another since 1993 and I hate to see them in this situation. I’ve really enjoyed the whole teaching experience and found out that I am a pretty good teacher. I love the idea of seeing people live their dreams and I also love to be a mentor to those who bought into my philosophy. Not everyone did but that’s totally ok.

Not everyone buys into every sports coach’s system either. There are people who hated Vince Lombardi but he won. I’m sure there are people who just enjoy hating but those are going to be anywhere. Gene Perret is one of the kindest and most giving people I’ve ever met and he said he gets those kinds of people too. If he gets them I have to expect it too.

Over the years I’ve had a few run ins with people over my teaching style or ideas but for the most part it’s been overwhelmingly positive. What I say to them I say for a reason and I don’t sugarcoat how difficult comedy and being in show business is. If they can’t handle it or don’t want to hear it that’s fine but I’m not going to baby anybody. This stuff is hard.

I think my biggest mistake over the years was not being good with money. I never did it for the money so I always tried to give the students way more than they paid for. I did that and more but I should have expanded it to the masses rather than just for comedy clubs. If I had brought it to corporate situations I bet I could have really made a boat load of cash.

There is still room to do that and I am getting the itch to teach again. I still have Uranus to build from the ground up and that’s no easy task but I hate to see the comedy class end on such a sour note. Zanies said I can still start them up again even though I need a person to do the administrative duties the other guy did. I am not in a position to do that myself.

I just like teaching. That’s why I trusted my business partner so much. He handled every student’s registration and payment and all I had to do was show up and have a lesson plan prepared. I was always tweaking and improving the lessons but losing all my notes put an even uglier twist to all of this. Not only do I not have any help but my notes are gone too.

Today I looked through some old notes and started to piece together a plan once again. I know how to teach a class and could do it tomorrow with no notes but I had a nice system going that really ran smoothly. I think I could put the classes online and take it nationwide in a short time. There are a lot of people who want to learn to be a comedian. I can help.

Sitting around pouting about how I got screwed isn’t going to help anyone including me so that’s why I dove right into it today. There are people that think everything happens for a reason but I’m not sure if I believe that. It did happen and now I have to deal with it. If I choose to let it defeat me it will. I don’t choose that. I am going to rebuild and try again.

Getting online with comedy classes is an idea I’ve had for years. For whatever reason it never got off the ground but now it’s a necessity. I’ve spent too many years working up a lesson plan and putting it into practice that letting it lapse would be a big waste of energy.

Helping new comedians get started was the legacy of my mentor C. Cardell Willis up in Milwaukee. He never even had a CD or a DVD of his act and that’s a shame. He was very funny but only a precious few ever got to see it. His mentoring skills were wonderful and he lives on in me even today. I want to have my legacy be the same and help others also.

I’ve already had over 1000 people take my classes in one form or another and I’m proud to have been able to touch that many people. I’ve made personal friends and seen a lot of people get to have the time of their lives in front of their friends and family. I can’t count all the times one of my students sees me years later and says ‘I still remember that night.’

‘That night’ is the graduation show where they got to go on stage and do five minutes at Zanies. I’ve had probably 50 or 60 of those nights over the years and I never get sick of it. I’m so proud of all the students and to see them have the guts to go up and let it rip makes me feel like I’ve contributed something to the betterment of humankind. I love that vibe.

I’m a ways off from doing it again in the next little while though. I will retype my notes and recreate my lesson plan and start over again. If my new web person Shelley can’t help me do this I’ll find someone who can. I think Shelley is the perfect one to help me though as she is a former student and knows what it’s like to go up there on a graduation show.

Whether I ever get famous or not is really not that important to me right now. I’d like to just make as many people feel good as I can for whatever time I have left. Doing shows or teaching classes would both qualify and so would being the King of Uranus who provides funny stuff to the masses. Fame wouldn‘t guarantee happiness. Money might rent some.

I don’t have to charge a lot for the classes and if I can get just a few stragglers in every city and town in America and Canada and Australia and England I’ll be extremely rich. It wouldn’t need to be embraced by the masses to be successful. I just need my solid core.

If I got over 1000 people in the Chicago/Milwaukee area I think I can do way more than that by being on the internet. That’s the long range plan anyway. For today I at least got it started in the right direction. This will take a lot of work but what else is new? I’m ready.

Tonight I had a good show at the Oak Creek Community Center in the Milwaukee area. There were about 300 people and they were great. I made a few bucks and it was close to home and that’s never a bad thing. I always love to do shows. That’s what keeps me alive.